Companies in areas that are supplied power by Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co. have been striving to meet a 15 percent power cut required by the central government that was introduced Friday.
To meet the goal, some companies are ready to change office hours starting Friday, while others have already moved their production bases to other areas.
Canon Inc. decided to introduce an inhouse daylight saving time system at its Tokyo headquarters, where office hours start one hour earlier at 7:30 a.m. and end an hour earlier at 4 p.m. Employees are expected to work during cool daylight hours and go home earlier than usual to minimize nighttime power consumption.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange also decided to start its office hours at 7:45 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m., both an hour earlier than usual.
Sharp Corp. announced Thursday that it would start its office hours an hour earlier than usual as well.
Some companies encourage salespeople visiting their business partners to go home, not back to their offices, following their business visits to continue the day's work, in order to reduce power consumption at the office.
Panasonic Corp. set up a power-saving section Friday to review its work system. Among its plans are starting work hours earlier, working on holidays and at night, and advising sales representatives to leave home to meet business clients and then return home directly without going to the office.
NTT Docomo Inc. decided to move days off to Mondays and Tuesdays from conventional weekends.
Hitachi, Ltd., Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. and Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. also decided to designate weekdays as days off.
Some companies moved their manufacturing bases from eastern Japan, which is suffering from serious power shortages, to other areas.
Honda Motor Co. shifted the production base of its new Fit Shuttle model, which went on sale last month, from the originally planned Sayama factory in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, to the Suzuka factory in Suzuka, Mie Prefecture.
Currently, there is concern over a power shortage in the Chubu region, where Honda's Suzuka factory is located, in the aftermath of the suspended operation of Chubu Electric Power Co.'s Hamaoka nuclear power plant. However, its production has not been affected by the suspension, a Honda executive said.
Nissan Motor Co. decided to suspend production from 2 to 5 p.m. at two factories in the Kanto region.
House Foods Corp. decided to move some operations from daytime to night at its Nara factory in Yamato-Koriyama, Nara Prefecture, and its Higashi-Osaka factory in Higashi-Osaka, Osaka Prefecture.
Ezaki Glico Co. is also considering moving peak production hours from daytime to night at five factories in the Kansai region.
Rakuten, Inc., Fujitsu Ltd. and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. allow employees to wear light, casual clothing, such as polo shirts, at the office as part of their "super cool biz" campaign.
Severe heat affects supply
It is difficult to predict how strained this summer's power supply may become.
A power industry source said that although "power demand may drastically decline for some time" if companies reduce power consumption, the situation does not look good.
TEPCO plans to increase its power supply to 53.8 million kilowatts at the end of July and 54.8 million kilowatts at the end of August, reinforcing its power production capacity by reopening thermal power stations and other measures.
However, if companies' efforts to save power are not effective, TEPCO's predicted maximum power demand of 55 million kilowatts in July will exceed supply.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, there is a 40 percent chance that temperatures from July to September will be higher than normal, compared to a 20 percent chance that temperatures will be lower.
Demand for electricity is expected to peak on weekdays in late July, when temperatures rise following the end of the rainy season, as well as early and late August, and early September.
Tohoku Electric has the capacity to supply 13 million kilowatts to 14.8 million kilowatts during peak demand periods, which is likely to fall short of the required supply by between 600,000 and 2.4 million kilowatts.
Tohoku Electric has already increased its power supply by purchasing power from other sources.
It also plans to receive a maximum of 1.4 million kilowatts of power from TEPCO. However, it is not clear whether the plan will materialize as TEPCO's power supply is also tight.
(Jul. 2, 2011)